Tomorrow


1h 43m 1972
Tomorrow

Brief Synopsis

A lonely farmer cares for an abandoned mother and her infant.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
G
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Legal
Romance
Release Date
Apr 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Apr 1972
Production Company
The Filmgroup Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
The Filmgroup Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Oakland, Mississippi, United States; Tupelo, Mississippi, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Tomorrow by Horton Foote (New York, Apr 1968), which was adapted from the short story "Tomorrow" by William Faulkner in The Saturday Evening Post (23 Nov 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

In Mississippi, Lawyer Douglas tells how he lost his first trial, back in the 1930s. He says he was representing H. T. Bookwright, a respectable man who, in self-defense, killed young Buck Thorpe, a known criminal and ruffian who was attempting to run off with Bookwright's daughter. Although everyone in the county expected the jury to acquit Bookwright swiftly of murder, after many hours of deliberation the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision. Despite all the evidence to support Bookwright's action, jurist Jackson Fentry, a poor but respected cotton farmer, mysteriously refused to vote for Bookwright's acquittal. After the trial, Douglas says, he felt compelled to look into Fentry's background for an explanation to his behavior. By talking with neighbors, Douglas came to realize that Fentry should never have been a jurist on the trial because of events that happened to him many years earlier: Although most of his life Fentry and his widowed father farmed the small cotton plantation owned by his family for generations, as a young man he takes a job thirty miles away as a winter caretaker at a sawmill owned by the father of Isham Russell. Isham, who tries to befriend the proud and soft-spoken Fentry, says his father will build him a small house if he stays with the job. However, for the first winter, Fentry is to reside in a building housing the boiler, which he cleans up and makes homey. On the morning of Christmas Eve, Fentry plans to walk to his father's farm, but instead discovers that a very pregnant woman, Sarah Thorpe Eubanks, has fainted from hunger and weariness outside his hut. After inviting her in, Fentry learns that she is homeless, as her husband Eubanks abandoned her when she became pregnant, and her disapproving family, a widowed father and three brothers, had previously disowned her when she married. Because of her weakened condition, Fentry suggests she rest on the bed and, while she sleeps, walks to the general store and buys her hard candy as a Christmas present. When she awakens hours later in the evening, he makes a pallet on the floor for himself and tells her to remain in bed the rest of the night. As if she rarely has anyone to listen to her, Sarah chatters about losing her mother at a young age and hints at a difficult life dominated by insensitive men. The taciturn Fentry listens and the next morning asks her to stay until the baby is born. For several days, they live amiably together as Fentry takes care of her. He proposes to her, but she reminds him that she is already married. When he tells her about the house the Russells will build him, Sarah accompanies Fentry to the spot on which it is to be constructed and reminisces about a big white house she saw when she was a girl. Days later, he again proposes, but she refuses, despite loving him. When Isham drops by and is surprised to find Sarah, Fentry says they are married. Fentry and Isham later go hunting, and they lay out stakes for the new house. Soon, Sarah has labor pains and Isham is sent to fetch the midwife, Mrs. Hulie. When Sarah says she is afraid to die, Fentry insists she will live and promises never to leave her, unless she asks him to. After bringing the competent Hulie, Isham waits with Fentry outside. Although Fentry says little, he asserts that Sarah will survive and constructs a cradle for the baby. In the morning, Hulie tells him the baby is a healthy boy, but confides her concern about Sarah, whom she fears may not live much longer, as she was sick long before becoming pregnant. Sarah is "played out," Hulie says, but Fentry vows to keep her alive. At Sarah's request, Fentry promises to raise the child as if he were his own and she then asks him to fetch Preacher Whitehead, so that they can be married. While Fentry walks the seven miles to the preacher's house, Hulie inquires if her family should be notified, but Sarah insists that they not be told. Several hours later, Fentry arrives with Whitehead, who marries the couple in an abbreviated ceremony. Afterward Fentry tells Sarah that their house will have three rooms, a big porch and three trees, as well as flowers in the yard. She asks him to bring her the baby, but immediately dies, leaving Fentry unwilling at first to believe she is gone. Wondering why they met after she was "worn out" and why she wanted him to rear the baby instead of her own family, Fentry promises that the child will never be without anything he needs. In the morning, Fentry announces that he will return to his father's farm with the baby. As he cannot afford a cow, Hulie sells him a goat, which must be milked every two hours, and shows him how to care for the baby. After Sarah is buried on the site where the house was to be built, Isham takes Fentry and the baby home in a horse and buggy, with the goat tied to the back. Fentry tells his father that the baby will be named after the two generals the old man served under during the Civil War, and the boy is henceforth called "Jackson and Longstreet." As the baby grows to a happy childhood, Fentry never leaves him alone, except when he travels once a year to pay the taxes. One day, however, Isham rides up with the three Thorpe brothers, Bud, Les and Billy, who have recently learned of their nephew's existence. They want the boy, simply because he is their "kin," and say that Eubanks, when confronted, "gave" the child to them. Fentry tries to stop them, but two of the brothers pin him down, while the third rides off with the crying boy. Afterward, Isham explains that he was ordered by the sheriff to bring them here, and although the Thorpes presently have the law on their side, perhaps they can fight for the boy in court. Fentry walks off, without hearing him, and never again mentions the child's name. When his father dies, Fentry works the farm alone. Years later, a young, hard-drinking, cattle thief, Buck Thorpe, who is believed to have murdered a man in Memphis, comes to town and stirs up trouble everywhere before he is killed. During Bookwright's trial, Fentry listens, but realizes that Thorpe is Sarah's son, "Jackson and Longstreet." During the deliberation, Fentry acknowledges that Buck was attempting to kill Bookwright, but says he cannot vote in favor of the defendant. Although the judge is forced to declare a mistrial, the following spring, in a second trial, Bookwright is acquitted. In the present, a sympathetic Douglas agrees that Fentry had no choice, because he could not act against the son he lost. Sadly, Douglas has come to the conclusion that "the world isn't run like it oughta be run." Admitting that he never would have guessed Fentry's capacity for love, Douglas says that he expected several generations of poverty and hardship would have bred the feeling out of him, replacing it with only the will to endure.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
G
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Legal
Romance
Release Date
Apr 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Apr 1972
Production Company
The Filmgroup Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
The Filmgroup Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Oakland, Mississippi, United States; Tupelo, Mississippi, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Tomorrow by Horton Foote (New York, Apr 1968), which was adapted from the short story "Tomorrow" by William Faulkner in The Saturday Evening Post (23 Nov 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Articles

Tomorrow


Playwright Horton Foote got his foot in the door of early television drama with his play The Trip to Bountiful. He was soon writing more original scripts for TV and film, and adapting the work by other authors such as Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962) and John Steinbeck (Of Mice and Men, 1992). Foote first adapted William Faulkner's story 'Tomorrow' in 1960 for TV's Playhouse 90, a much-praised broadcast directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Richard Boone, Kim Stanley and Charles Bickford. Stage director and actor Joseph Anthony had directed big, stellar Hollywood adaptations of the plays The Rainmaker (1956) and The Matchmaker (1958), but his feature film adaptation of Tomorrow (1972) is a tiny independent production, filmed in B&W. Remaining true to Faulkner's story, the poor, soft-spoken sharecropper Jackson Fentry (Robert Duvall), takes in Sarah (Olga Bellin), a sickly pregnant woman abandoned by her husband and her kinfolk. Fentry raises the son as his own, but is frustrated when the law gives the boy back to the very relatives that treated his mother so badly. The story is framed by a flashback from a trial; where an attorney (Peter Masterson) marvels at Fentry's loving dedication in the face of such hardship and heartbreak. Although criticized for a slow pace, Tomorrow was praised as capturing the complexity and humanity in William Faulkner's story. Robert Duvall is impressive as the quiet man whose feelings run deep. Fentry's commitment to Sarah and her boy is as moving as a story from the Bible. Stage actress Olga Bellin made a number of dramatic appearances on television but this was her only feature film. Sudie Bond is the wise midwife, who unhappily describes Sarah as 'played out' after giving birth. As expected, the slow and sad subject matter was not a plus in the commercial market. Duvall's Fentry remains a stoic presence almost to the end. Time magazine criticized the B&W photography as gray and dull compared to Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show of the previous year. But Variety's praise was unequivocal: "This one does credit to the film medium." Horton Foote had first worked with Robert Duvall on Lillian Hellman & Arthur Penn's The Chase (1966); they would collaborate again, most successfully on Tender Mercies (1983).

By Glenn Erickson
Tomorrow

Tomorrow

Playwright Horton Foote got his foot in the door of early television drama with his play The Trip to Bountiful. He was soon writing more original scripts for TV and film, and adapting the work by other authors such as Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962) and John Steinbeck (Of Mice and Men, 1992). Foote first adapted William Faulkner's story 'Tomorrow' in 1960 for TV's Playhouse 90, a much-praised broadcast directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Richard Boone, Kim Stanley and Charles Bickford. Stage director and actor Joseph Anthony had directed big, stellar Hollywood adaptations of the plays The Rainmaker (1956) and The Matchmaker (1958), but his feature film adaptation of Tomorrow (1972) is a tiny independent production, filmed in B&W. Remaining true to Faulkner's story, the poor, soft-spoken sharecropper Jackson Fentry (Robert Duvall), takes in Sarah (Olga Bellin), a sickly pregnant woman abandoned by her husband and her kinfolk. Fentry raises the son as his own, but is frustrated when the law gives the boy back to the very relatives that treated his mother so badly. The story is framed by a flashback from a trial; where an attorney (Peter Masterson) marvels at Fentry's loving dedication in the face of such hardship and heartbreak. Although criticized for a slow pace, Tomorrow was praised as capturing the complexity and humanity in William Faulkner's story. Robert Duvall is impressive as the quiet man whose feelings run deep. Fentry's commitment to Sarah and her boy is as moving as a story from the Bible. Stage actress Olga Bellin made a number of dramatic appearances on television but this was her only feature film. Sudie Bond is the wise midwife, who unhappily describes Sarah as 'played out' after giving birth. As expected, the slow and sad subject matter was not a plus in the commercial market. Duvall's Fentry remains a stoic presence almost to the end. Time magazine criticized the B&W photography as gray and dull compared to Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show of the previous year. But Variety's praise was unequivocal: "This one does credit to the film medium." Horton Foote had first worked with Robert Duvall on Lillian Hellman & Arthur Penn's The Chase (1966); they would collaborate again, most successfully on Tender Mercies (1983). By Glenn Erickson

Robert Duvall in Tomorrow on DVD


A small independent movie with some heavyweights behind it, Tomorrow (1971) has finally made it to DVD thanks to Home Vision Entertainment. Now for the price of a rental or purchase, people throughout the U.S. can see this favorite of the art festival circuit.

Actor Robert Duvall has long had a connection with writer Horton Foote, becoming friends with him and his family after appearing in a stage production of one of Foote's works, then cast as the mysterious Boo Radley in Foote's screen adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird (1962). Later both Duvall and Foote would win Academy Awards for Tender Mercies (1983) and it was after that movie's success that their 1971 movie Tomorrow was re-released. Containing a Duvall performance as powerful as the one that got him an Oscar, and often sited by the actor as his favorite film performance, this previously rarely seen movie finally began to develop a small but avid cult following.

Adapted by Foote from a 1940 short story by William Faulkner, Tomorrow is the story of a dirt-poor Mississippi farmer (Duvall) who happens upon a runaway pregnant woman who has been "played out" by life. The soft-spoken, unemotional farmer takes her into the barren sawmill where he has taken a job as caretaker and slowly begins to fall in love with her.

Those used to today's fast-moving movies will probably find the very leisure pacing of this movie's opening third off-putting. However, the slowness of the beginning allows the viewer to acquaint himself with a man who only lives to survive, which makes his quiet, deadpan declarations of emotion go off like rifle shots. When Duvall's farmer matter-of-factly asks the woman to marry him, the unassuming tone of his voice will makes one want to run the DVD back. Did he just say that?

This stealthy approach pays off toward the end as we begin to share in this man's joy and pain. Robert Duvall, who made this movie between playing the hypocritical religious fanatic Frank Burns in M*A*S*H (1970) and the consigliore who serves up a horse's head in The Godfather (1972), would seem an unlikely candidate to play the lead in a romance. However, Tomorrow is not only a love story, but also one of the most powerful and affecting ones ever made.

Home Video Entertainment has done a marvelous job of presenting this film on DVD. The print of this black-and-white movie is sharp despite its age and obvious low-budget limitations. In addition there is a 2003 interview with Robert Duvall and Horton Foote discussing their long collaboration and the making of Tomorrow, plus a trailer and a sizeable booklet with not only liner notes but the entire text of Faulkner's original short story accompanied by the original illustrations from its first publication in The Saturday Evening Post. A movie that has long been considered a small treasure can now be savored by anyone who appreciates a great, if simple, story beautifully told.

For more information about Tomorrow, visit Home Vision Entertainment. To order Tomorrow, go to TCM Shopping.

by Brian Cady

Robert Duvall in Tomorrow on DVD

A small independent movie with some heavyweights behind it, Tomorrow (1971) has finally made it to DVD thanks to Home Vision Entertainment. Now for the price of a rental or purchase, people throughout the U.S. can see this favorite of the art festival circuit. Actor Robert Duvall has long had a connection with writer Horton Foote, becoming friends with him and his family after appearing in a stage production of one of Foote's works, then cast as the mysterious Boo Radley in Foote's screen adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird (1962). Later both Duvall and Foote would win Academy Awards for Tender Mercies (1983) and it was after that movie's success that their 1971 movie Tomorrow was re-released. Containing a Duvall performance as powerful as the one that got him an Oscar, and often sited by the actor as his favorite film performance, this previously rarely seen movie finally began to develop a small but avid cult following. Adapted by Foote from a 1940 short story by William Faulkner, Tomorrow is the story of a dirt-poor Mississippi farmer (Duvall) who happens upon a runaway pregnant woman who has been "played out" by life. The soft-spoken, unemotional farmer takes her into the barren sawmill where he has taken a job as caretaker and slowly begins to fall in love with her. Those used to today's fast-moving movies will probably find the very leisure pacing of this movie's opening third off-putting. However, the slowness of the beginning allows the viewer to acquaint himself with a man who only lives to survive, which makes his quiet, deadpan declarations of emotion go off like rifle shots. When Duvall's farmer matter-of-factly asks the woman to marry him, the unassuming tone of his voice will makes one want to run the DVD back. Did he just say that? This stealthy approach pays off toward the end as we begin to share in this man's joy and pain. Robert Duvall, who made this movie between playing the hypocritical religious fanatic Frank Burns in M*A*S*H (1970) and the consigliore who serves up a horse's head in The Godfather (1972), would seem an unlikely candidate to play the lead in a romance. However, Tomorrow is not only a love story, but also one of the most powerful and affecting ones ever made. Home Video Entertainment has done a marvelous job of presenting this film on DVD. The print of this black-and-white movie is sharp despite its age and obvious low-budget limitations. In addition there is a 2003 interview with Robert Duvall and Horton Foote discussing their long collaboration and the making of Tomorrow, plus a trailer and a sizeable booklet with not only liner notes but the entire text of Faulkner's original short story accompanied by the original illustrations from its first publication in The Saturday Evening Post. A movie that has long been considered a small treasure can now be savored by anyone who appreciates a great, if simple, story beautifully told. For more information about Tomorrow, visit Home Vision Entertainment. To order Tomorrow, go to TCM Shopping. by Brian Cady

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A written statement in the end credits acknowledges the assistance of the City of Tupelo, Lee County, where the film was shot, the Community Development Foundation in Tupelo and the Oakland Community in Itawamba County, MS. Tupelo is located about thirty miles from the birthplace of William Faulkner, the author of the short story on which the film was based. The title of the film is derived from words that are spoken by the lawyer in the film and in Faulkner's original short story: "the lowly and the invincible of the earth...endure tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow."
       Voice-over narration in the framing story is provided by Peter Masterson, who portrays "Lawyer Douglas" in the film. The narration is set in the present, and accompanies visual flashback sequences related to the trial of "H. T. Bookwright," an event which had occurred earlier in the narrator's life. The majority of the film, which is a flashback occurring approximately twenty years before the trial, is the story of "Jackson Fentry," "Sarah Thorpe Eubanks" and her baby. Although there is a 1971 copyright statement for The Filmgroup Productions in the onscreen credits, the film was not registered by them until 1982 under the number PA-130-745.
       Faulkner's short story "Tomorrow" was first published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1940 and later appeared in his 1949 anthology Knight's Gambit. Horton Foote, who won an Academy Award for his 1963 film adaptation of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird (see entry above), adapted the story into a play for the television show Playhouse 90, which aired on CBS-TV on March 7, 1960. The television version starred Richard Boone and Kim Stanley and was directed by Robert Mulligan. Foote rewrote and expanded his play, which ran for twenty-five performances in 1968 at the HB Playwrights Foundation Theatre in Greenwich Village, New York City. That production was directed by Herbert Bergof and starred Robert Duvall and Olga Bellin, who reprised their roles of Fentry and Sarah in the 1972 film.
       In the original Faulkner work, the story is told in a flashback narrated by the lawyer's nephew, who was twelve years old at the time of the trial. The nephew relates that he and his uncle visited Fentry's neighbors and acquaintances after the trial and, using their recollections, were able to understand and sympathize with the reason Fentry stubbornly refused to acquit Bookwright. As noted in a September 1983 Los Angeles Times article, Foote added the dialogue between Fentry and Sarah, none of which was in the original Faulkner story. In an October 1972 LAHExam article, the film's co-producer, Paul Roebling, stated that while the original story emphasized a miscarriage of justice theme, the filmmakers chose instead to develop the love story.
       Roebling was a Broadway, film and television actor, the husband of Bellin, and son of banker Mary Roebling. His partner, Gilbert Pearlman, was a former publicist for Columbia and Disney studios and later, a writing partner with Gene Wilder. According to an October 1969 Daily Variety news item, Roebling and Pearlman formed The Filmgroup Productions, Inc. with off-Broadway producer Davis Weinstock II. Although the partners had planned to make six films within three years, Tomorrow marked the only feature film producing effort of Roebling and Pearlman.
       Tomorrow also marked the only feature film of Bellin and the last directed by Joseph Anthony. According to the New York Daily News review, James Franks, who portrayed "Preacher Whitehead," and Johnny Mask, who played the young "Jackson and Longstreet," were Mississippi locals. A modern source adds Robert Raglan to the cast.
       According to a June 1972 Variety news item, during the film's New York run, some critics considered the title to be a "poor Boxoffice come-on" and joked that the side-street marquee at the 68th Street Theatre where the film played looked like an incomplete announcement for the theater's next attraction.
       A January 17, 1973 Variety news item stated that the distribution of Tomorrow was being "self-promoted" and privately negotiated by Pearlman and Roebling. However, a later January 1973 Variety news item reported that Lawrence Friedricks Enterprises Inc. had been hired to publicize the film. Tomorrow had its premiere in New York, where most critics, with the exception of the New York Times reviewer, Vincent Canby, highly praised the film. The Los Angeles opening was held at the County Art Museum and was sponsored by the American Film Institute. Tomorrow was entered in the Cannes, Dallas and Stratford film festivals. The National Society of Film Critics named Tomorrow as an example of the kind of film that would be honored by a new category for "neglected" films. Cue named Duvall Best Actor for his performance. According to a May 1976 Variety news item, the film was on the Year's Ten Best lists of film critics Judith Crist, Gene Shalit, Archer Winsten, Wanda Hale and Jeffrey Lyons.
       A May 1976 Variety news item reported that Tomorrow was acquired by Ray Blanco and Kevin Kelley of A. J. Bauer & Co., which planned to represent the film at that year's Cannes Film Festival and which was planning a re-release. According to an August 1992 Daily Variety news item, Gerard Depardieu considered making a French version of the film, but the project never reached fruition. According to a September 1983 Los Angeles Times news item, Tomorrow was Duvall's favorite performance to that time.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video 27, 1999

Released in United States on Video July 27, 1999

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972

Released in United States on Video 27, 1999

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972

Released in United States on Video July 27, 1999